Tony Campolo

This post is the text of a sermon preached by Tony Campolo at the online church, Church of Fools.  Campolo always has something thought provoking to say, let me know what you think!

 

Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at
Eastern University in St. David’s, Pennsylvania, and is a media
commentator on religious, social and political matters. His latest
book, Speaking My Mind, is now available in the US and UK. Tony preached at a special service in Church of Fools on Wednesday 28th July.

I
recently was in on an interview with a journalist from Indonesia. An
American asked him the same question that you and I are asking: “Why do
so many people around the world hate the United States?”

The
journalist answered, “Because you have disappointed us. We expected
better of you than you have demonstrated over the past few years. We
used to think that America was the ideal nation. Yours was a country in
which there was justice for all and your people showed us a generous
spirit. That no longer seems to be the case. Whether it is true or not,
we now see America as an arrogant bully, using its power to impose its
will on other nations.”

His answer is worth considering.
Increasingly we disappoint the world with what appears to be hypocrisy.
We condemned Iraq for allegedly having weapons of mass destruction,
while we Americans stockpiled thousands of nuclear bombs and huge
supplies of materials for chemical and biological warfare. We
justifiably condemned Saddam Hussein for defying UN resolutions, yet we
defied that same world body by invading Iraq.

We claimed that
Saddam Hussein was a sadistic tyrant who was responsible for the deaths
of thousands of innocent civilians and who tortured his prisoners, but
we failed to recognize that in the course of the war in Iraq, we did
the same things. To date some 15,000 Iraqi citizens have died. Our
Secretary of Defense refers to them as “collateral damage.”

We
also are hated because non-Western nations consider America as a
demonic influence, perverting their cultural traditions and values.
There can be little doubt that Hollywood and American TV have promoted
lifestyles of sexual promiscuity and violence, and have propagated a
way of life that undercuts strong family commitments and the values of
their religious institutions.

Then there is the global economy!
It is controlled to serve American interests to the detriment of poor
nations. Trade relations are unfair! For instance, America subsidizes
its farmers. That means that farmers in the Third World who are not
subsidized cannot compete price wise on the world market.

We
Americans want bargains in department stores, even though we now know
that the bargains we get on clothing and sneakers come at the expense
of exploited underpaid workers in Third World sweatshops ñ yet, we
don’t seem to care.

We still delude ourselves into thinking that
we are a generous people when in reality, of the 22 industrialized
nations we are dead last in per capita giving to the poor of the world.
On a per capita basis, for every dollar we give to the poor, the people
of Norway give seventy.

I believe it’s possible to compare
America to the ancient city of Sodom. Ezekiel 16:49 states, “Behold,
this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom; pride, fullness of bread,
and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did
she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” I really do believe not
only that this verse describes the Sodom of old, but that we can
justifiably apply it to the America of today.

What must be
done is for America to heed the Bible verse inscribed on our Liberty
Bell. It reads, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall
humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their
wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin,
and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

I believe
Americans must heed this call and turn away from our wicked ways. We
need to turn away from the sexual promiscuity. Turn away from the
consumeristic materialism. Turn away from our failure to pay attention
to what we have done collectively to poor and weak peoples around the
world.

Turn away from neglecting those who are in need, while
pursuing lifestyles that are dependent upon the exploitation of weak
nations. Turn away from our lack of attention to those things our
government has done that are contrary to the will of God. And finally
we need to teach our children to turn away from these things as well.

Then, let our prayer be that God will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.

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~ by Chris Green on August 10, 2004.

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